Hands-On Review:Line 6 POD X3 & POD X3 Live
POD taken to the third power
Line 6 Product Manager
Any serious student of modern guitar recording technology is already well schooled in the merits of Line 6’s acclaimed POD® series of digital amp and effect modelers. Whether they’ve pulled all-nighters with the breakthrough original bean-shaped POD (which made its debut back in 1998) or have crammed for hours with the expanded POD 2.0, PODXT, Floor POD Plus, or the exciting Pocket POD, these rockin’ guitar scholars have had the ultimate survey course in the history of tone. Line 6’s endless tonal combinations range from classic to modern amp models and cabinets, along with a library of spectacle-crushing pedals and effects that reference the greatest boxes ever stomped or dialed.
Now the time has come to graduate to an even higher level with the greatly expanded tone palette and added I/O flexibility of the new POD X3 and POD X3 Live. Not only do each of these stunningly designed units boast an awesome 78 guitar amp models along with 98 effects and stompbox models—making them far and away the most thoroughly stocked PODs yet—they also bust open incredible new options for recording acoustic guitars, bass, and vocals as well, by virtue of an XLR input, added bass amp, preamp and vocal effects, and dual-input capabilities. Evolution indeed.
The addition of dual engines already puts POD X3 in a class of its own. The internal routing in POD X3 allows players to play a single guitar through two different amp and effect signal chains simultaneously—opening up new frontiers in hybrid tones, parallel effects, dual amps, and stereo imaging of sounds. In addition, its dual inputs include both 1/4" and XLR options, affording players the option of singing through a vintage mic preamp and playing guitar through a high-gain amp at the same time, with each signal benefiting from an independent processing chain. Want to record two instruments at once? Dual engine processing allows you to jam with your bass player direct to your DAW, with you rocking a model of a boutique amp with wah, delay, and fuzz, while he plunks out the roots through a classic ’70s bass rig emulation. Now that’s flexibility.
If all that sounds like it requires some complex programming or crazy routing schemes, think again. The POD X3’s newly designed user interface makes it easier than ever for players to expertly shape their tone and configure signal paths. With a larger LCD screen, you can see the entire signal chain at a glance; and even when you’re deep into the editing zone, you’re never more than one editing page away from any amp, effect, preset, or control parameter. If you don’t feel much like editing in the first place, X3’s 200+ presets mean you’re already good to go with tones and routing schemes from the greatest songs and tone recipes of all time.
With all that power and a universe of tones at your disposal, the only question remaining is—where are you going to apply all that creative juice? Are you primarily a studio Svengali? Then perhaps the desktop-friendly X3 is best for you. Styled after the original bean-shaped POD, its basic aesthetics and user interface will feel familiar to everyone who’s used the original POD or PODXT for commercial sessions, album tracks, and just plain jamming. What will feel exhilaratingly new is its improved interface, increased I/O options, and mightily expanded tone offerings. Here’s the deal: POD X3 comes loaded with literally every POD tone available for guitar, bass, and vocals. That means everything: 78 guitar amps, 24 guitar cabs, 28 bass amps, 22 bass cabs, 98 effects and stompboxes, and six vocal preamp models.
Now, you don’t have to sacrifice a single virtual capacitor to take all this firepower into a live setting. The rugged new POD X3 Live packs precisely the same braintrust of amps, cabs, and effects into a road-ready, brushed-aluminum floor unit with dedicated on/off switches for each effect, stereo balanced XLR outputs, an external stereo effects loop, onboard tuner and tap-tempo, plus a built-in expression pedal that gives players the ability to control wah and volume, or wreak morphing havoc with effect blends and other parameter controls for up to nine simultaneous effects. And what effects: vintage overdrives, beefy fuzz, lush reverbs, celestial choruses, mind-spinning flangers, and much more. There’s also a Solo Boost switch, a must-have for making those solos sing. Both models also feature stereo headphone outputs for private listening, a digital S/PDIF output for super-clean recording, and a USB 2.0 connection for pro-level multichannel computer recording applications.
With POD X3 and POD X3 Live, Line 6 takes POD several steps up the evolutionary chain, pushing the envelope on the sonic potential packed into every one of their products, while giving you the freedom and flexibility to choose where you take your next creative evolution. See you in class . . .
Features & Specs
POD X3 & POD X3 Live:
- 78 guitar amp and 24 cab models
- 98 stompbox and studio effects
- Dual tone engine: 2 guitar amps/effects rigs at once or 2 instruments at once
- Up to 9 simultaneous effects per signal chain
- 200+ presets
- Tap tempo control for time-based effects
- 28 bass amp and 22 cab models
- 6 vocal preamp models
- 1/4" instrument input (with normal/pad switch)
- XLR microphone input (with trim adjust)
- USB 2.0 for multichannel digital computer recording
- Studio-quality, 24-bit A/D and D/A converters
- S/PDIF stereo digital audio output
- Precision chromatic tuner with audio mute and bypass options
- Stereo 1/4" line outputs (with amp/line pad switch)
- FBV digital connector for compatible FBV footcontrollers
POD X3 Live:
- Stereo XLR balanced line outputs
- 1/4" programmable stereo effect loop
- Line 6 Variax™ Guitar Digital Connector
- MIDI in and out/thru
- 1/8" jam along input
- External expression pedal input